How to publish a letter in a medical journal Dr Kieran Walsh, Editor, BMJ Learning
Paper-chase Who has been an interviewer? Weight of CV? Who is winning? How to get ahead?
30 minutes – one month MD thesis SR RCT Case ctrl Cohort
Letter/Case report So what? Medline RAE Widely read More interesting – debunk Learn Use rules in other settings Single author Low risk strategy Commissions
How Read a paper - IMRAD Find a fault Read the instructions for authors Say what the fault is
Rules – kiss (keep it simple) Say what was wrong - important and relevant points (2-3 at most) Say why Give references Inverted triangle Will I offend the author/editor??
Tips 1300 words? “I would like to take issue with Walsh’s view of online learning (BMJ 2003:12;251)” Meta-analysis data flawed or metanalysis/shmetanalysis or Have you ever metanalysis that you didn’t agree with?
Rules - kiss “I read with interest” “More studies are needed” “At this moment in time” “In light of the fact that” “This is a first draft” “And one more thing...” “Would you be interested in...?”
KISS There are no prior published studies of this topic... Authorities agree that... It is well known that... One can reasonably assume... It is interesting to note that...
Rules - kiss “The feline species was circumlocuted by the canine animal”
Rules - kiss “The CIAs are partially blocked by atherosclerosis which is also present as evidenced by his IHD and MI and CABG.”
Rules - kiss “Medication use is very common amongst the elderly, diabetics, and epileptics” “He is no longer in a state of agitation”
Rules - kiss “Don’t get it right – get it written” Send it on the day of publication Forget about it Start again at start Play the salesman’s game
Proofs Don’t change them Reply immediately Don’t be a heartsink
Editors Editing changes that will help you get your message across Editing changes that will have no effect Editing changes that will have an adverse effect – be rational not emotional
Authorship Authorship credit should be based on: Substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data? Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content? Final approval of the version to be published? All of the above? To avoid disputes over attribution of academic credit, decide before you start. Read the target journal’s “Advice to Authors.” Don’t gift authorship.
Conflicts of interest? You received a travel bursary of £200 from a relevant company two years ago You own stock in a competing company You are a member of an academic body that may be influenced as a result of research even though you will not benefit personally in any way You have based your research reputation on a certain treatment even though you have no financial interests in the treatment
Conflicts of interest May be personal, commercial, political, academic or financial “Financial” interests may include employment, research funding, stock or share ownership, payment for lectures or travel, consultancies, and company support for staff Conflicts of interest arise when authors, reviewers, or editors have interests that are not fully apparent and that MAY influence their judgments on what is published. They have been described as those which, when revealed later, would make a REASONABLE reader feel misled or deceived.
Conflicts of interest? The solution? Declare them